John Allen Muhammad, the DC sniper, was executed tonight. This took place just over seven years after his capture. It seems to me that this is unusually quick for the death penalty process. Did he waive some level of appellate or habeas review?
Please: I’d like to avoid discussion of the appropriateness of the death penalty, either in general terms or as applied to this case; there are other fora for that. I’m just interested in the factual question.
It does occur to me that there is no intermediate level of appeals for death penalty cases in Virginia state court; those appeals go right to the state Supreme Court. Wikipedia also says that state habeas review originates in the Va. Supreme Court. These features would speed the appeals process along.
So Virginia was deliberately chosen over DC and Maryland. Muhammad was sentenced to death for killing Dean Harold Meyers, who was shot at a gas station near Manassas, Va., and was the seventh person killed during the attacks.
The article notes that Muhammad was killed about six years after his conviction, so that’s actually faster than the post-1991 average.
I didn’t know this until earlier this week, but there’s evidence these two killed one woman and shot another during a robbery in Alabama, and Lee Malvo says he and Muhammad killed people in California, Texas, and Arizona, and shot men in Florida and Louisiana. I don’t think they were ever tried for any of those, since Muhammad was sentenced to death for the one killing and Malvo pleaded guilty and has received about six life sentences without the possibility of parole.
VA used to have a law that said new evidence could only be used in an appeal if it was introduced within 30 days of your conviction. They finally changed that since it was such a bogus requirement.
When Muhammad called the police he mentioned a shooting in Alabama and that was one clue that led to them being caught. He said it was in Montgomery and at first the police thought he meant Montgomery county MD.